Popular Government Grants for College

By F. F. John , last updated June 24, 2011

Paying for college has become incredibly expensive, but government grants are one popular way for students to defray the cost. In 2010 alone, college tuition rose faster than the nation’s gross domestic product, forcing many to defer their college dreams. Despite this, you can apply for one of the following grant opportunities and continue with your career and educational aspirations.

Pell Grant

Named for the late Senator Claiborne Pell, the Pell Grant program was created by the federal government to assist lower-income students in paying for their education. Only U.S. citizens and legal immigrants can apply and they can be either part-time and full-time students. Applicants must demonstrate financial need to qualify and to do so, they must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. While the Pell Grant is open to students of all races, African-American students receive 46 percent of Pell Grants, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

National SMART Grant

The Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent grant program is provided by the U.S. Department of Education to college juniors and seniors. The grant is only available to American citizens and legal permanent residents in financial need. Applicants must be full-time and part-time students with at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA). They must also be pursuing a critical foreign language such as Arabic, computer science, engineering, mathematics or a technology-related major. If selected, a candidate can receive up to a total $8,000 to pay for two academic years.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

Students who have lost a parent in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars can apply for the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. Applicants must be aged 24 or younger and they can only qualify if they were enrolled in college at the time of their parent’s death. There is no financial need requirement to be eligible for this grant and all who qualify will receive an amount equal to the maximum Pell Grant amount for the application year. In 2011, the maximum Pell Grant award was $5,550.

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant

College students can apply for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant. Also called the TEACH Grant, it gives up to $16,000 in aid to college students who plan to become teachers. To qualify, applicants must be in the top 75th percentile on their college entrance examination such as the SAT or ACT test. Applicants with a GPA of 3.25 or higher are also eligible for the grant.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program

The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Program is administered by the federal government for students in exceptional need. Exceptional financial need means that an applicant is from an extremely low-income family that cannot provide any financial support for college. Selected candidates receive up to $4,000. The amount received, however, depends on the applicant’s specific financial need, the amount of funding at their college and their school’s financial aid program.

USDA/1890 National Scholars Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture administers the USDA/1890 National Scholars Program to encourage more African-Americans to enter the field of agriculture. These students must be attending one of several historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) across the country. Those selected get money to pay for books, tuition and room and board. Recipients are also given an opportunity to work for the Department of Agriculture upon completing their degree.

Army ROTC/ HBCU Scholarships

The United States Army created the Army ROTC/HBCU Scholarship program to get more African-Americans to enter the Army’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corp. The program is available to American citizens attending HBCUs and they must be aged 17 to 31. They must also have a 2.5 GPA or higher, and if necessary, must be prepared to serve in the armed forces when called upon.

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